Collaboration continues to become an integral part of business. Whether online or in person, in the office or working from home it is often misunderstanding or miscommunication that causes frustration within collaborative efforts. In fact, a recent Deloitte study found that only 20% of businesses without collaboration strategies outgrew the market. This tells me that without a strategy to facilitate and embed meaningful collaboration into company culture, it is difficult to grow as a business.
Why a Collaborative Workforce?
Embracing and including diversity of all kinds has become an initiative in many organisations, and for good reason. There’s plenty of research supporting its role in increased profitability and sales revenue, customer acquisition and retention rates, innovation, problem-solving effectiveness, and more.
It makes sense: when two or more different elements come together, they create something new. One part hydrogen with two parts oxygen creates water. So we get it—it’s the right thing to do, and there is a payoff. But how do you overcome the inevitable frustration that comes with it?
The Whole Brain® Model and Facilitating Efficient Collaboration
I recently worked with the board of a not-for-profit organisation, servicing the health sector. The board was made up of nine volunteers, all successful business people in their own right, and all with their own contrasting opinions on every topic on the agenda.
We all went home exhausted, but it was worth the extra effort. I had introduced them to the Whole Brain® Model as a way of understanding and valuing the differences in the room. It had worked well. Teams. Coworkers. Couples. Families. They all represent differences that require this additional effort. Diversity is the norm nowadays, and it’s what makes life interesting. So often there is an element of surprise and irritation when, once again, we have to figure out what that other person is trying to do. The difference adds spice. Just imagine, what it would be like if everyone we lived and worked with saw the world exactly as we did? Yet we are still human and we still get frustrated.
Here are a few quick tips to help you get past the irritation and draw value from your differences:
1. Put everything out on the table
Have a “how are we different” engagement using tools like assessments to understand where you have similarities and differences. They will surprise you less, and you will be better equipped to build off of them.
2. Take a task you share and allocate the items to best suit your skills and preferences
For example, if you’re planning an event, consider who is better at finance? Who is better organised and good with logistics? Who has more creative ideas? Who communicates better? Sometimes, you’ll discover that there’s a blind spot—something that neither of you are perfectly suited to. With a close coworker of mine, it’s the detail orientation. We can both do it, but neither of us enjoy it, so we share the load on that one.
3. Be conscious of your mindset with the “difference factor”
When you find yourself getting irritated, write down the difference factor you are reacting to. By writing it down, you are identifying it and sidestepping your emotional reaction, which often blinds our thinking.
Difference adds value, but only when your mind sees the difference as additive not destructive. So seek out diversity. It will never be easy, but you can design and work toward making the inevitably bumpy road worth the ride.
Leverage HBDI® Assessments and Whole Brain® Thinking and let them be the Driving Force for Change in your Business
Those of you who use the HBDI® Assessment and Whole Brain® Thinking Model already have many tools at hand to facilitate effective collaboration — look at the similarities and differences on each individual’s profile! Ask yourself after noticing these points, ‘now that I know what I know about this person, how would I change my collaborative style with them?’.
Keen to understand how Whole Brain® could help your business overcome the frustrations of collaboration? Get in touch with us.
This article was originally published in 2016. It has been updated in 2020 and republished to ensure our readers don’t miss out on valuable information.